Boardwalk Empirehasn’t wasted anytime getting into the drama this season. The first episode featured Nucky’s arrest, something that the audience should have expected but may have been surprised by. Chalky is also getting the screentime that he deserves, and the cast continues to deliver the kind of performances you’d expect from an ensemble like this. Could we possibly complain?

The Players:

Episode Title: “Ourselves Alone”

Nucky’s been arrested, and The Commodore takes the opportunity to organize his plan to reclaim power in Atlantic City; consequently, Nucky learns that his brother Eli has been plotting against him. Margaret continues to display her subtle corruption by stealing Nucky’s ledger book in order to prevent the authorities from finding it. Jimmy meets with Arnold Rothstein and is unable to determine whether his business meeting was as successful as he’d hoped. Chalky spends a night in prison with a disrespectful man unfamiliar with his reputation.

The Good:

  • Chalky: Michael K. Williams repeatedly stole the show as Omar Little in HBO’s “The Wire,” but his legions of fans could have been forgiven for being disappointed with his involvement in the first season of “Boardwalk Empire.” It’s not that his performance is less than impressive, but that he simply wasn’t afforded the degree of screentime that he so clearly deserves. He put fear into the hearts of drug dealers by patrolling the streets of Baltimore with a shotgun in “The Wire,” and this week he proves that he can be just as menacing without lifting a finger.
  • The Commodore: For a character that seemed to be the token “old guy” last season, The Commodore sure put on a show tonight. Last year he was dying, this year he’s filled with vigor and strength. There are few things more badass in the world than dominant elderly men with well-groomed facial hair. He’s finally becoming a character we’re interested in.
  • Eli: Another character who is starting to get our attention is Eli, who seemed far too submissive last season to be worth paying all that much attention to. He’s seizing power from his brother, but we can tell that he still feels reluctant. What’s magnificent is the fact that the writers of this show don’t feel the need to insert all of this information directly into the dialogue. They have enough trust in the actors and directors. That’s quite a rarity these days.

The So-So:

  • Margaret: We don’t get too much new information about Margaret in this episode. We already know that she has transformed herself (perhaps unrealistically) from a helpless immigrant to a cunning and devious minor criminal. Sure, we’re reminded in this week’s episode that she is the calm center that Nucky relies on in difficult moments, but she didn’t get enough time on screen to develop much more than she already has.

The Bad:

  • Jimmy: Jimmy is confused by his encounter with Arnold Rothstein; quite honestly, we are too. We know he’s working with Lucky in some capacity, but this subplot feels like a minor one that was meant to be perceived as a major one. The situation is a little too vague for us to completely be involved in. It seems like something that will become more significant in the coming weeks. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Overall:

As promising as “Boardwalk Empire” seemed right from the start, the first season spent so much time establishing the world and the characters that we weren’t sure when the real drama would start. Thankfully, we’ve nothing to worry about now, with a strong ensemble of characters all finding themselves in some rather tense situations. Good gangster dramas balance the immediate violence with the lies and betrayals that go on behind closed doors. This week’s episode had all that and more.

Rating: 8/10

Catch “Boardwalk Empire” every Sunday night on HBO!

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